Ultimate Fantasy World Juniors Mock Draft Shows Depth of Talent, Potential Strategies

Updated: Dec 4, 2021

A dynasty league for the World Juniors is a novel concept. It’s never been done before and certainly never on the level envisioned by Ultimate Franchise Fantasy Sports.

With the UFWJ Franchise Auction upon us this weekend — starting Saturday at noon ET and ending Sunday at 8 p.m. ET — this revolutionary league is on the verge of becoming a reality for the 2022 tournament that begins on Boxing Day (Dec. 26, 2021), mirroring the IIHF World Junior Championship with 10 franchises drafting 25-man rosters, plus 5-man protected lists for future years to emphasize the dynasty element.

Those draft strategies are going to be fascinating — as will the creativity of franchises branding as unique countries with flags and uniforms — for the Ultimate Fantasy World Juniors. The Inaugural Draft is slated for Dec. 19, following selection camps and as the WJC countries are finalizing their rosters through pre-tournament exhibitions, but it is never too early to start mocking the potential results.

Since this is new and innovative, it’s tough to predict how UFWJ franchises will approach the draft. Some will be looking to win now by selecting the best players available — with gold, silver and bronze medals up for grabs, along with player awards — while others will have an eye for the future by prioritizing their protected list and targeting prospects that can return for multiple tournaments. For the protected list, franchises can go as young as 2024 eligibles, which is the current UFFS scouting cutoff — always three years out from the NHL draft. That class is born in 2006, while the WJC is primarily a 19-year-old tournament, thus starring 2002-born prospects that were drafted last year. So that offers a five-year range of eligibility for UFWJ franchises and they can select their protected list players in any of the 30 rounds, adding further intrigue in terms of draft strategies.

With this initial mock draft, UFFS director of hockey scouting Larry Fisher went 11 rounds deep to showcase the talent available for top-six forwards, top-four defenders and starting goaltenders. The first six rounds were focused on starting lineups — three forwards, two defenders and one goaltender — but UFWJ franchises won’t have to follow that script for the Inaugural Draft in selecting a total of 14 forwards, 8 defenders and 3 goaltenders for this year’s tournament, plus 5 prospects of any position for their protected list. Those are the necessary totals but franchises can fill out their rosters in any fashion — they could take all their forwards before taking any defenders, if they so desired. And their protected list could be comprised strictly of forwards without any defenders or goaltenders.

Regardless of roster construction, the later rounds will make a world of difference — drafting the right depth players, including the revelations and breakout sensations, will determine the medal contenders. Every franchise will feature a quality core — as evidenced by this mock — but those hidden gems and unsung heroes could put a franchise over the top and onto the podium. This league ensures every player competing in the WJC will have value, so if a fourth-liner from Austria happens to score or Switzerland’s third-string goalie somehow posts a shutout, one of the UFWJ franchises will be celebrating!

Now that the picture has been painted, let’s proceed with the fun of a fresh canvas for every franchise in this 11-round UFWJ Mock Draft — selecting 110 of the 300 players that will be picked in the Inaugural Draft before recapping the results for the UFWJ franchises as well as the WJC countries.











 

Franchise Results By Draft Order

Franchise 1

Matvei Michkov – F, Russia

Owen Power – D, Canada

Kent Johnson – F, Canada

Kaiden Guhle – D, Canada

Juraj Slafkovsky – F, Slovakia

Leevi Merilainen – G, Finland

Martin Chromiak – F, Slovakia

Jan Mysak – F, Czech Republic

Adam Fantilli – F, Canada

Eemil Viro – D, Finland

Wyatt Kaiser – D, USA

Franchise 2

Shane Wright – F, Canada

Connor Bedard – F, Canada

Mason McTavish – F, Canada

Shakir Mukhamadullin – D, Russia

Daniil Chayka – D, Russia

Nick Malik – G, Czech Republic

Lukas Reichel – F, Germany

Stanislav Svozil – D, Czech Republic

Nikita Chibrikov – F, Russia

Pavel Novak – F, Czech Republic

Vladimir Grudinin – D, Russia

Franchise 3

Sebastian Cossa – G, Canada

Dylan Guenther – F, Canada

Jake Neighbours – F, Canada

Topi Niemela – D, Finland

Jacob Perreault – F, Canada

Ryan O’Rourke – D, Canada

Zayde Wisdom – F, Canada

Ridly Greig – F, Canada

Ozzy Wiesblatt – F, Canada

Joni Jurmo – D, Finland

Daemon Hunt – D, Canada

Franchise 4

Yaroslav Askarov – G, Russia

Simon Edvinsson – D, Sweden

Marat Khusnutdinov – F, Russia

Alexander Pashin – F, Russia

Isak Rosen – F, Sweden

Kirill Kirsanov – D, Russia

Oskar Olausson – F, Sweden

Daniil Gushchin – F, Russia

Daniel Ljungman – F, Sweden

Ruben Rafkin – D, Finland

Elias Salomonsson – D, Sweden

Franchise 5

Cole Perfetti – F, Canada

Hendrix Lapierre – F, Canada

Drew Commesso – G, USA

Matt Coronato – F, USA

Lukas Cormier – D, Canada

Yan Kuznetsov – D, Russia

Samu Tuomaala – F, Finland

Logan Cooley – F, USA

Kasper Simontaival – F, Finland

Olen Zellweger – D, Canada

Seamus Casey – D, USA

Franchise 6

Alexander Holtz – F, Sweden

Quinton Byfield – F, Canada

Brandt Clarke – D, Canada

Helge Grans – D, Sweden

Sasha Pastujov – F, USA

Jan Bednar – G, Czech Republic

William Wallinder – D, Sweden

Matthew Knies – F, USA

Sean Behrens – D, USA

Theodor Niederbach – F, Sweden

Daniel Torgersson – F, Sweden

Franchise 7

William Eklund – F, Sweden

Seth Jarvis – F, Canada

Simon Nemec – D, Slovakia

Simon Latkoczy – G, Slovakia

Joakim Kemell – F, Finland

David Jiricek – D, Czech Republic

Jonathan Lekkerimaki – F, Sweden

Fabian Lysell – F, Sweden

Dalibor Dvorsky – F, Slovakia

Michael Krutil – D, Czech Republic

Dmitri Kostenko – D, Russia

Franchise 8

Jake Sanderson – D, USA

Joel Blomqvist – G, Finland

Ivan Miroshnichenko – F, Russia

Tyson Foerster – F, Canada

Brad Lambert – F, Finland

Samuel Knazko – D, Slovakia

Matthew Savoie – F, Canada

Carter Savoie – F, Canada

Carson Lambos – D, Canada

Michael Benning – D, Canada

Filip Mesar – F, Slovakia

Franchise 9

Jesper Wallstedt – G, Sweden

Aatu Raty – F, Finland

Roni Hirvonen – F, Finland

Aron Kiviharju – D, Finland

Roby Jarventie – F, Finland

Emil Andrae – D, Sweden

Artyom Grushnikov – D, Russia

Fyodor Svechkov – F, Russia

Vasily Ponomarev – F, Russia

Kasper Puutio – D, Finland

Samu Salminen – F, Finland

Franchise 10

Matty Beniers – F, USA

Luke Hughes – D, USA

Thomas Bordeleau – F, USA

Brock Faber – D, USA

J.J. Peterka – F, Germany

Calle Clang – G, Sweden

Chaz Lucius – F, USA

Florian Elias – F, Germany

Mackie Samoskevich – F, USA

Luca Munzenberger – D, Germany

Scott Morrow – D, USA

 

Franchise Rosters By Position

Franchise 1

Matvei Michkov – F, Russia

Kent Johnson – F, Canada

Juraj Slafkovsky – F, Slovakia

Martin Chromiak – F, Slovakia

Jan Mysak – F, Czech Republic

Adam Fantilli – F, Canada

Owen Power – D, Canada

Kaiden Guhle – D, Canada

Eemil Viro – D, Finland

Wyatt Kaiser – D, USA

Leevi Merilainen – G, Finland

Franchise 2

Shane Wright – F, Canada

Connor Bedard – F, Canada

Mason McTavish – F, Canada

Lukas Reichel – F, Germany

Nikita Chibrikov – F, Russia

Pavel Novak – F, Czech Republic

Shakir Mukhamadullin – D, Russia

Daniil Chayka – D, Russia

Stanislav Svozil – D, Czech Republic

Vladimir Grudinin – D, Russia

Nick Malik – G, Czech Republic

Franchise 3

Dylan Guenther – F, Canada

Jake Neighbours – F, Canada

Jacob Perreault – F, Canada

Zayde Wisdom – F, Canada

Ridly Greig – F, Canada

Ozzy Wiesblatt – F, Canada

Topi Niemela – D, Finland

Ryan O’Rourke – D, Canada

Joni Jurmo – D, Finland

Daemon Hunt – D, Canada

Sebastian Cossa – G, Canada

Franchise 4

Marat Khusnutdinov – F, Russia

Alexander Pashin – F, Russia

Isak Rosen – F, Sweden

Oskar Olausson – F, Sweden

Daniil Gushchin – F, Russia

Daniel Ljungman – F, Sweden

Simon Edvinsson – D, Sweden

Kirill Kirsanov – D, Russia

Ruben Rafkin – D, Finland

Elias Salomonsson – D, Sweden

Yaroslav Askarov – G, Russia

Franchise 5

Cole Perfetti – F, Canada

Hendrix Lapierre – F, Canada

Matt Coronato – F, USA

Samu Tuomaala – F, Finland

Logan Cooley – F, USA

Kasper Simontaival – F, Finland

Lukas Cormier – D, Canada

Yan Kuznetsov – D, Russia

Olen Zellweger – D, Canada

Seamus Casey – D, USA

Drew Commesso – G, USA

Franchise 6

Alexander Holtz – F, Sweden

Quinton Byfield – F, Canada

Sasha Pastujov – F, USA

Matthew Knies – F, USA

Theodor Niederbach – F, Sweden

Daniel Torgersson – F, Sweden

Brandt Clarke – D, Canada

Helge Grans – D, Sweden

William Wallinder – D, Sweden

Sean Behrens – D, USA

Jan Bednar – G, Czech Republic

Franchise 7

William Eklund – F, Sweden

Seth Jarvis – F, Canada

Joakim Kemell – F, Finland

Jonathan Lekkerimaki – F, Sweden

Fabian Lysell – F, Sweden

Dalibor Dvorsky – F, Slovakia

Simon Nemec – D, Slovakia

David Jiricek – D, Czech Republic

Michael Krutil – D, Czech Republic

Dmitri Kostenko – D, Russia

Simon Latkoczy – G, Slovakia

Franchise 8

Ivan Miroshnichenko – F, Russia

Tyson Foerster – F, Canada

Brad Lambert – F, Finland

Matthew Savoie – F, Canada

Carter Savoie – F, Canada

Filip Mesar – F, Slovakia

Jake Sanderson – D, USA

Samuel Knazko – D, Slovakia

Carson Lambos – D, Canada

Michael Benning – D, Canada

Joel Blomqvist – G, Finland

Franchise 9

Aatu Raty – F, Finland

Roni Hirvonen – F, Finland

Roby Jarventie – F, Finland

Fyodor Svechkov – F, Russia

Vasily Ponomarev – F, Russia

Samu Salminen – F, Finland

Aron Kiviharju – D, Finland

Emil Andrae – D, Sweden

Artyom Grushnikov – D, Russia

Kasper Puutio – D, Finland

Jesper Wallstedt – G, Sweden

Franchise 10

Matty Beniers – F, USA

Thomas Bordeleau – F, USA

J.J. Peterka – F, Germany

Chaz Lucius – F, USA

Florian Elias – F, Germany

Mackie Samoskevich – F, USA

Luke Hughes – D, USA

Brock Faber – D, USA

Luca Munzenberger – D, Germany

Scott Morrow – D, USA

Calle Clang – G, Sweden

 

Franchise Depth Charts

ANALYSIS: This franchise is well balanced between present and future, led by the dynamic Michigan duo of Power and Johnson as top-five picks from this year’s NHL draft, while Michkov and Fantilli are among the Big Three for 2023 and Slafkovsky is also a top-five candidate for 2022. Guhle is likely to captain Canada, with Mysak and Chromiak also expected to have leading roles for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, respectively. Merilainen could emerge as Finland’s starter — though he’d have to steal the net from returnee Joel Blomqvist — and Viro should have a prominent role on Finland’s blue line, including potential power-play time, while Kaiser isn’t a lock for the Americans but could become a key contributor on their back end if he makes the cut.

ANALYSIS: Boasting a 1-2 punch of Wright and Bedard as frontrunners to be first overall picks in 2022 and 2023 — with Bedard surprisingly slipping to the second round in this mock — Franchise 2 would be thrilled with this result. McTavish would have to be loaned by Anaheim but that still seems probable, as does Reichel getting loaned by Chicago’s AHL affiliate Rockford. Assuming those loans come to fruition, this offence would be tough to top, with Novak and Chibrikov also pegged for productive tournaments. Franchise 2 went with three Russians on defence — including that country’s top two in Mukhamadullin and Chayka, with Grudinin more of a reach for the future — while also taking a couple Czechs, with Svozil rounding out their all-Euro blue line as another top-pair defender for his nation and Malik tabbed as their starter in hopes of him securing that Czech crease over Detroit draft pick Jan Bednar.

ANALYSIS: Canada and the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings, in particular, are well represented on Franchise 3. Cossa is one of the Big Three between the pipes for this year’s tournament — along with Russia’s Yaroslav Askarov and Sweden’s Jesper Wallstedt as Top 20 picks from the past two NHL drafts — while Oil Kings linemates Guenther and Neighbours will be sticking together here in leading an all-Canadian forward group. Neighbours was recently returned to junior by St. Louis and Perreault would need to be loaned from Anaheim’s AHL affiliate San Diego, while Wisdom should be recovered from shoulder surgery in time for Canada’s selection camp, which starts on Dec. 9. Greig and Wiesblatt are energetic WHLers who could also be impact players for Franchise 3, providing they make the cut for Canada. Niemela enters the tournament as Finland’s top defender on paper and his compatriot Jurmo could enjoy a coming-out party on this stage. O’Rourke will have a role on Canada’s defence and in a leadership capacity, while Hunt will be in the mix for the final spot on that Canadian blue line.

ANALYSIS: Franchise 4 built from the back end, with Askarov as an elite goaltender and Edvinsson as one of the better blueliners available. The forward group features a Russian line as well as a Swedish line among this all-Euro core. Kirsanov could have an offensive role on Russia’s blue line, while Salomonsson is an offensive-minded Swedish defender for the future. Rafkin, the lone Finn, is very familiar with the North American game — having been a USHL and OHL import before returning home to the Liiga this season — so he should have a strong showing with this year’s tournament in Edmonton.

ANALYSIS: Powered by Perfetti and Lapierre as forwards with NHL experience and a track record of success in best-on-best showcases for this age group — they starred for Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup a couple years ago — Franchise 5 has the makings of a medal contender on paper. Commesso will backstop the defending champion Americans, with Coronato among their go-to guys up front. Cooley and Casey will be go-to guys for Team USA next year but might be able to make an immediate impact if they crack this year’s roster. Likewise for Zellweger on Canada’s back end, coming off a stellar showing at the world under-18s back in April where he quarterbacked the power play. That role may belong to Cormier at this under-20 tourney, with Zellweger waiting in the wings for next year. Kuznetsov could be a two-way force for Russia in rounding out the defence corps for Franchise 5. Last but not least, Tuomaala and Simontaival should fill the net as Finnish forwards.

ANALYSIS: A couple big “ifs” here — if Byfield is healthy and if Holtz is loaned by New Jersey — but Franchise 6 might be the favourite for gold with this core. Of course, if Byfield is healthy and loaned by Los Angeles, he is worthy of a top-five pick and obviously wouldn’t slide to the second round unless there is uncertainty surrounding his ankle injury. A strong case can be made for Holtz in the top five as well — even without his Terror Twin in Lucas Raymond, who won’t be getting loaned as the Calder favourite in the NHL thus far. Franchise 6 features a few Kings prospects with Clarke and Grans anchoring an impressive blue line. There is also a Swedish theme, with Holtz alongside Niederbach and Torgersson — that could very well be Sweden’s top line too — in addition to Grans and Wallinder as defenders. Pastujov and Knies could be top-six forwards for the Americans and Behrens should be impactful on their back end. Bednar will be battling the aforementioned Malik to be the Czech starter for the medal round.

ANALYSIS: Franchise 7 is playing the long game by loading up on youngsters that will likely play in two or more WJCs going forward. Eklund, now back in Sweden, and Jarvis, assuming he is loaned to Canada by Carolina, will lead the offence with their NHL experience. Nemec and Jiricek are potential top-10 picks in the 2022 draft as coveted right-shot defenders who were already standouts at last year’s WJC as underagers — and both will be eligible to return for a third tourney next year, assuming they aren’t in the NHL. Kemell and Lekkerimaki are also top-10 candidates for 2022 as scoring forwards who could do their share of sniping despite being underagers this year. Dvorsky is even younger as a 2023 eligible but don’t underestimate his potential impact for Slovakia, who will be backstopped by Latkoczy again as one of the revelations from last year’s WJC before joining USHL Chicago for their championship run to complete his Cinderella season. Now starring for USHL Madison, Latkoczy is no longer under the radar but could be a sleeper for the tournament’s top goaltender award if Slovakia pulls an upset or two and perhaps makes the semis to play for a medal. That is a long-shot, on both fronts, with Cossa, Askarov and Wallstedt as the favourites for that accolade. Lysell is getting acclimatized to Western Canada as an import for WHL Vancouver and should fare well for Sweden. Krutil is already in North America too, likely to be loaned from AHL Rockford as a top-pairing defender for the Czechs, with Svozil and Jiricek competing to be his partner. Kostenko is a lesser-known Russian but Montreal has done well drafting defenders in recent years, so he might exceed expectations as well.

ANALYSIS: Franchise 8 has an interesting makeup with the Savoie brothers up front, while Matthew’s Winnipeg teammate Lambos and Carter’s Denver teammate Benning are paired on the blue line. Benning hasn’t been mentioned a whole lot as a roster hopeful for Canada but deserves consideration, having previously shone alongside the Savoie brothers with AJHL Sherwood Park. Sanderson is the stud on this defence and could be a dominant force in this year’s tournament as the real key to Team USA repeating. Knazko is returning as Slovakia’s captain from last year and is already en route to North America as an import for WHL Seattle. Blomqvist is the last line of defence here as another returnee and projected starter for Finland. Foerster, who would be loaned by Philadelphia’s AHL affiliate, and Carter Savoie would be lethal on the same line as legit snipers for Canada. Looking to the future, in addition to Matthew Savoie, Miroshnichenko, Lambert and Mesar are a forward trio projected as top-20 picks for 2022. It’ll be interesting to see how many of those four are representing their countries at this year’s tournament — Miroshnichenko (Russia) and Mesar (Slovakia) appear more likely than the younger Savoie (Canada) and Lambert (Finland) ahead of selection camps — but all four should have starring roles next year, which would bode well for Franchise 8’s chances of medalling in 2023.

ANALYSIS: Another all-Euro core that could contend for a UFWJ medal, Franchise 9 targeted Finland’s top line with the resurgent Raty between Hirvonen and Jarventie, who will be loaned by Ottawa’s AHL affiliate. That trio could do as much damage as Sweden’s top line from Franchise 6. Funny how that worked out in this mock, not coincidentally. It was intentional to highlight that strategy of selecting linemates and loading up on players from the same country, which Franchise 9 obviously did with a half-dozen Finns as well as a few Russians and a couple crucial Swedes. Salminen and Puutio project as secondary contributors for Finland, while Kiviharju represents the future there as the very early frontrunner to go first overall in 2024 — and the lone 2024 eligible taken in this mock. Could he be the first Finn to go No. 1? Time will tell but Kiviharju will play in at least two WJCs prior to getting drafted and possibly three if he happens to make this year’s roster. If he doesn’t go straight to the NHL following his draft year or is loaned back to Finland as an NHL rookie, Kiviharju could become a rare four-time participant in the WJC — and an incredibly valuable commodity in this dynasty league! Speaking of MVPs, Wallstedt is among the most valuable players for this year’s tournament as Sweden’s starter. Andrae will be one of Sweden’s top defenders, always performing well at international events including the recent U20 4 Nations tournament. The Russians shouldn’t disappoint for Franchise 9 either, with Svechkov and Ponomarev pencilled into top-six roles as two-way talents and Grushnikov being a steady, rock-solid defender on a hard-hitting blue line with the aforementioned Mukhamadullin, Chayka and Kuznetsov.